Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day draws attention to dangers of addiction



Two thousand volunteers across New Jersey walked local neighborhoods Friday talking to residents during the second annual Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day organized by the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey.

Christina Smith was one of them. At 10 a.m. she stood in a Ventnor neighbohood, flyers in hand.

Smith, a substance abuse awareness advocate and an outreach manager with Elements Behavioral Health in Somers Point, walked through her former neighborhood, where she knew many of the residents and business owners. Her plan was to walk through the Downbeach community, placing flyers on windshields, as well as talking to local business owners about ways they can help the community.

The Absecon resident said she would be stopping at dentist and chiropractor offices, places where pain medication may be prescribed, but also at realty offices to alert real estate agents of recent scams and dangers that can occur when homeowners let people in their houses.

“When you’re doing open houses, you don’t really think to take your medications with you,” said Smith. “People may think to put their jewelry away, but when you’re letting neighbors into your house, there’s always a chance someone could get them.”

Smith mentioned several ways addicts get access to prescription medications and wants to help educate her community on ways to prevent it. She said part of her advocacy is just being an ear for people who may be struggling with addiction in their families, social circles or themselves.

“Every single walk of life is being affected by addiction,” Smith said.

After losing a friend to opioid abuse, Smith became active in the addiction and recovery field.

“It’s my life now,” she said.Previously, Smith worked for a dental office. Elements Behavioral Health offers addiction treatment programs. Smith also volunteers with Join Together Atlantic County, a partnership coalition to prevent and reduce substance abuse.

“This is my community,” said Smith, who pointed out her old house and the beach block where she got married. “I know a lot of people here, and I just want to make sure that we’re not forgotten about and people don’t think just because it’s a small, nice shore town that there isn’t a problem.”

New Jersey on Thursday filed a lawsuit against a drug company that makes a powerful fentanyl painkiller spray. The state alleges Insys Therapeutics Inc. directed its sales force to have doctors prescribe the drug Subsys for any type of chronic pain even though it was only approved for cancer patients who couldn’t benefit from other opioids.

Insys has previously said the marketing of Subsys was appropriate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.